U2’s Lesson: Love Your Customer, But Love Your Stuff, Too!

U2’s Lesson: Love Your Customer, But Love Your Stuff, Too!

“Love your customer” is central to the mindset I try to instill with sales teams. But make no mistake, it’s just as important, to love your stuff, too!

Iconic rock band U2 is under fire again for putting commercialism over content. This time the criticism centers on U2’s latest album release, “Songs of Innocence,” specifically for partnering with Apple in the biggest content giveaway ever on iTunes.

This is a storm in a teacup compared to the lesson Bono and the band learned back in 1988 — a lesson that should be heeded by everyone in sales and small business.

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If you want them to believe it, you gotta’ love it

I know, I know. I often write that in order to win new business, you need to be truly customer-focused and love your customer. And I stand by that.

But that should not overshadow how important it is to love your stuff, too.

The only way to get customers to believe your stuff is for you to love it first. The word “passion” might be over-used today, but the concept is central to selling: when you infinitely believe in your product, passion just emanates from you.

When you’re passionate about your product, you’ll be passionate about bringing it to the marketplace, to customers.

And passion is contagious. This love of your stuff invariably sparks a virtuous cycle. It sets hearts on fire!

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Five Blockbusters & Then Their Biggest Flop

In Bono On Bono, the iconic U2 lead singer recalls the day the band left the studio after recording its sixth album, Rattle and Hum.

U2’s previous album, The Joshua Tree, had been a blockbuster.  Songs like With Or Without You and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For had topped the charts.

But while recording The Joshua Tree, the band wasn’t convinced this would be the case. They felt they had set the studio on fire, but that the material might be too far out there for the masses, that the public would not dig their mojo. They actually had felt this in their first four albums before that, as well.

Each time, they were wrong, and U2 rocketed from one success to another into the rock ‘n roll stratosphere.

But then came Rattle and Hum.

Surely, the music executives wanted to be part of this success, and the planning for Rattle and Hum began to sound like boardroom drivel of market trends, target audiences and focus groups.

The band went along… and lost sight of their passion. They lost their core conviction.

So here they were leaving the studio after Rattle and Hum. Bono and lead guitarist, Edge, looked at each other and, for the first time, said, “Everyone’s going to love this one!”

And. It. Flopped.

My, how insightful they weren’t.

My, how passionate they weren’t.

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Passion & Conviction Rule!

If you think about it, some of the most successful products wouldn’t hold water in most board rooms. Consensus is often the nemesis of innovation and success.

Über blogger and author Chris Brogan posted on Facebook recently. “On paper, pretty much anything that’s amazing and/or new doesn’t work. Beastie Boys, for instance.”

Conversely, what often looks logical on paper doesn’t fly in the marketplace, it doesn’t resonate in customers’ hearts. Yes, it’s all about love!

As I write in, A Sale Is A Love Affair, no one will truly fall in love with you if you’re not you. “The Heart Feeds Itself First” is an entire chapter dedicated to the concept of spiritual self-love being the starting point to both romantic and business relationships. I spoke at length about it in my TEDxLugano Talk in April.

If you’re bringing something to the marketplace that you don’t believe in, that you don’t truly love, then you just won’t reach your full potential.

So, yes, when you engage with your customers, love them.

But don’t forget that the starting point is loving yourself, loving your product.

“If you don’t love it, they won’t believe it.”  And they won’t buy it!

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U2 learned a hard lesson in 1988

But they indeed learned it.

Three years later, when they went into the studio to cut album 7, Achtung Baby, they basically told the music executives to take their focus groups and buzz off.

The band had been “advised” that the song, One, could offend mainstream listeners, particularly Catholics. Bono, himself, is a devout Catholic, and this warning only made him believe in his lyrics, his stuff, even more.

Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you come here to play Jesus
to the lepers in your head?

When U2 finished recording and left the studio, Bono and Edge looked at each other and laughed at themselves… at how crazy they were… and how much they loved the material. “At least we believe in it.”

And Achtung Baby went through the roof in sales and reviews. One topped the charts. It won over critics, and it truly touched the hearts of millions of spiritual seekers and music lovers alike.

One is felt by many to be prophecy, and I personally have never heard of prophets checking their ideas with focus groups. Prophets are the first ones to love their stuff.

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Great selling requires customer-focus, no doubt

But it also requires deep belief in your product, in your content, in yourself.

It’s religious. It’s spiritual. It’s love.

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I help sales teams improve their performance by putting the “love” into the sales process. The tools and techniques vary, but the mindset is simply a heart-set.

Let’s talk about love and sales. Contact me here and let’s set up a call.

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Photo by Peter Neill